London, Jan 6 (ANI): A new study has revealed that although catfish communities of South American contain almost identically coloured and patterned fish, they may be home to three or more different species.
The study found that many species are mimetic - evolving to share the same colour patterns for mutual benefit - and that each individual community of similar looking fish comprised species belonging to different genetic lineages, but still adopting similar colour patterns.
The results have implications for environmentalists charged with protecting environmental diversity and safeguarding the species.
"Although appearing identical in terms of colour pattern, our in-depth assessments of genetic relationships, diet, body shape and colour patterns of the fish revealed that 92 percent of the communities we sampled comprised species that do not compete for resources," said Markos Alexandrou, a student at Bangor University.
Claudio Oliveira of project partners, (UNESP, Botucatu, Brazil) said, "Besides the unknown biodiversity and interesting evolutionary system revealed by this study, it reinforces the urgent need to preserve and manage South American environments to avoid the loss of many species yet to be discovered and described."
The study appears in Nature. (ANI)